Posts Tagged ‘Plan B Brewing’
Sometimes, changing a culture feels like trying to move a mountain. You put all your strength into it and it doesn’t budge. Of course, being that lone wacko on the fringe is like battling windmills with a toothbrush, you can easily be dismissed. Having acquaintances with earth moving equipment, though, begins to lessen the odds.
In BC’s craft beer scene, we witnessed a slight tremor in the mountain in 2009. Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub inaugurated their first cask ale festival on March 14, which quickly sold out. They followed with another fest on November 21. Both days of Penticton’s Okanagan Fest-of-Ale on April 3 & 4 were completely subscribed. Summer Caskival at Dix Barbecue and Brewery in Vancouver garnered a full house. The Great Canadian Beer Festival always sees full attendance on both days. CAMRA Vancouver’s Oktoberfest celebration at the Granville Island Tap Room sold out. X-mas X-treme at Dix on December 5 had to close its doors less than two hours into the event because of reaching capacity. Now we find that the third annual Feast of Five Firkins at Vancouver’s The Whip Restaurant & Gallery sold out in a day!
This can be a bit of a problem for CAMRA members and their circle who have supported many of these events from the beginning. Venues are at capacity when you visit, or events are sold out with even a day’s delay. What’s a poor beer aficionado to do? Well, it indicates an expansion of capacity is necessary. Events may have to grow or become more frequent. More establishments will have to be persuaded to part with their slavish 10 taps of crap and begin offering a rotating selection from other parts of the beer spectrum. Pioneers have to venture out to tame the frontier, bringing living colour to the glasses of macro-lagerdom.
No, this isn’t spam. It’s actually the prodigal-blogger signing on from way up north. I haven’t headed into the hills on a vision quest and grown a bushy beard.
As you may recall, my entrepreneurial vision was that of commercial brewery start-up (or perhaps, “up-start”) and it still is. Boy, I have so much to say and so little space (and time) in which to say it. I feel like I’m living Plato’s allegory of the Cave or Logan’s Run (I’ve been outside and it’s real!). Business started as Peg Leg’s restaurant here in Prince Rupert on July 1 to much fanfare. Our friends and future friends from town packed the place. Then we tore it all up. See, it had been a restaurant before us (we kept the name Peg Leg’s), but it needed a severe face lift. We did in three days what Restaurant Makeover does in seven. Got the place right down to the original old plank flooring (which was a gem of a discovery!), spread some paint, guzzled a few beers, and ignored all urge to sleep.
Our first day with the new menu, new staff, and new look was July 5th. On that day, with patrons packed to the rafters, one of our line cooks went to the bathroom and didn’t return. Seriously. He walked out the back door. That’s when I learned the pressure-cooker method of making dough and cutting fish; and a bit about HR. I thought I had made a huge mistake. My life, at that moment, was ruined.
It has gotten much better, however. And through our love/hate relationship with the start-up, I know it is good. While sitting there last night, in fact, nursing a craft ale and listening to a talented artist do his rendition of “Hurt” on our mini stage, I looked around, noticed patrons truly enjoying our creation. I smiled. The summer has seen both Irena (my very patient better half) and I working to discover the “fine balance” between restaurant life, “other job” life, and real life. It’s not been perfect, nor easy, but luckily, we set out expecting that; and that’s the glue. If there’s one tidbit of experience I can share with someone travelling down this crazy road, it’s this: set your expectations to INCLUDE imperfection and hiccups — it’s the necessary buffer in the avoidance of failure.
On my down time, I have been busy pumping sparge to mash tun to kettle on my little Sabco pilot brewery, getting the feel for it. Soon, from barley, there will be goodness. Unfortunately, another thing I have learned is that restaurants are expensive. As I continue to whittle down my start-up expenses, I’m squirrelling away funds for the brewing side of things. Brewing has always been my “stage B” plan all along. And like you, I’m chomping at the bit. Shockingly, however, I feel I’m relatively on track (for a two-beer roll-out in 2010).
Incidentally, congratulations to the boys “down the road” at Plan B Brewing in Smithers. They recently had their grand opening. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have shared a couple of pot stoppers of their brown. Nicely done fellas. Expect a visit soon.
Cheers from the north,
~ Rod Daigle, Triple Island Brewing Company
Glen Ingram and Mark Gillis are self-employed Web developers in the small northern community of Smithers. Over the last few years they’ve been perfecting brewing techniques and recipes at home. Now they’ve taken the plunge and implemented Plan B — Plan B Brewing, that is.
Plan B just received their manufacturing license and approval from Northern Health. The first batch of beer was supposed to have been brewed this weekend. However, unless you live in Smithers, you are unlikely to get this beer any time soon. Gillis and Ingram are keeping things small to begin with, producing only enough to supply area residents. There will be two staple beers and another one or two that will rotate through different styles.
In keeping with the local focus, Ingram and Gillis have employed their fellow citizens where possible. EarthStone Concrete Works was contracted to produce the tasting room counter tops. Facundo Gastiazoro designed and produced the sign above. There are even residents who are planning to grow hops for Plan B. Malt, however, must be purchased from Gambrinus Malting, 625 miles away in Armstrong.
Plan B also intends to be as close to a zero waste operation as possible. They are distributing their beer in 1L reusable swing-top bottles and have had bags custom-made for the purpose.
For more photos of Plan B and to follow their progress, see their Facebook page.